The Horde on DVD

Tuesday, 21 September 2010 07:46

This zombie horror marks the first outing for its writer/director team of Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher. On the surface it is a run-of-the-mill zombie movie. The plot is the basic ‘dead walk, living run away shooting as they go’ type of thing. But unlike most of these movies the infighting amongst the living is there from the start, not introduced half way through to up the tension. 

Instead our ‘heroes’ - and I use the term loosely – are forced together at the beginning of the narrative and gradually build an uneasy truce. The story begins with a group of renegade police officers attempt to seek revenge for the mob killing of one of their team. Under the cover of darkness they enter the mobster’s hideout, a dilapidated and condemned tower block; they are quickly outnumbered and overpowered by the gangsters.

The Horde on DVDWhilst the police officers are tortured by the gang strange things are happening outside. But not just outside, all the protagonists are taken by surprise when a recently murdered man begins to reanimate and attack them. Despite the gang member’s torrent of bullets the corpse does not stop until it is blasted in the head with a shot gun (although this seemingly obvious zombie execution method is then overlooked for the rest of the film). An uneasy alliance begins between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’.

There is no simple escape from the tower block and the men and woman must work together to find a way out.  As the story progresses there are divisions amongst the group and they, perhaps inevitably, begin to dwindle due to attacks from both the zombies and within the group itself.

The characters are all tough, hardened cops and criminals. They are capable and not afraid of violence. They take on the killing of the zombies with seemingly little thought.  There are moments where they appear to relish attacking what was a human being. There are no softer or more thoughtful characters.

None of them seem to care particularly for each other, with the exception of the leader of the gangsters who does show some interest in his brothers fate when the group split due to differences of opinion over whether to amputate an infected leg or not.

Stars Claude Perron (“Chrysalis”; “Amelie”), Eriq Ebouaney (“Thirst”; “Transporter 3”), Aurelien Recoing (“Intimate Enemies”) and Doudou Masta (“Arthur and The Minimoys”) spend much of their time shouting and shooting and little time moving the plot along. There are moments of calm where we learn a few details about the characters, but these are few and far between.

Yves Pignot provides some welcome comic relief as an older man who still lives in the tower block. He teams up with the survivors and helps lead them down to the basement and has a moment of glory with a machine gun and a narrow corridor rapidly filling with the undead.

The film does suffer at the beginning where the first few scenes seem to make little sense. We do not know why the group of police officers are seeking revenge. We are treated to a brief shot of a dead man, presumably murdered, with one of the officers standing over him at the very start of the film and then a funeral scene. But it is not clear who the murdered man was.

The whole point of the initial attack on the gangsters is only made clear when the first of the three deleted scenes is watched. A shame then, that this scene was deemed suitable for cutting. Yes it would have meant we had to wait a little longer for the zombies, but we would have understood the motivation of the police officers and been treated to a little character development along the way.

Direction, lighting and sound are slick and in keeping with the story. The tower block does not offer much in the way of sets, lots of corridors and stairs with the odd dingy apartment for variety. But these are used well and imaginatively. Who knows what is behind each door? And just what is that shuffling about at the end of the long dark corridor?

The films colours are muted and cold with only the fresh blood, and there is plenty of it, coming through in all its scarlet splendour. The splashes and speckles of blood appear everywhere, on the walls, the floors, the still living, no surface is safe.

Of course no zombie film would be complete without the dulcet tones of the hungry undead. These zombies are the modern, fast and dexterous kind. They do shamble about a bit, but once they get a scent of a tasty living being they could give Usain Bolt a run for his money (or life).

The traditional jerky movements, the tilted heads and moans are all there. At one point the horde gathers around a stranded officer who clambers on to a car, they surround him and appear to work as one in their relentless attack.

If you don’t want to read the subtitles and choose to watch with the English dubbing you will not lose out on any of the atmosphere, the voice acting is to a high standard  with suitable actors for each character.

Overall this film is good, and knowing that this is a debut feature from the director’s one can look forward to further grizzly and macabre creations in the future.

Special features include a making of, deleted scenes, a nine minute short film, zombie concept art, storyboards, teaser trailer and an Easter Egg, if you can find it.

“The Horde” (certificate ‘18’) has a running time of 93 minutes, is out now on DVD from Momentum Pictures, retailing at £15.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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